As par for the course in North Texas, we currently alternate between record high temperatures and sudden drops well below freezing, some in the same day. The Nepenthes and other tropical carnivores are all indoors, soaking up as much sunlight as they can and sucking up artificial light the rest of the time. The temperate carnivores went into dormancy with our first big freeze two weeks ago. The Roridula gorgonias seedlings…well, I don’t even pretend to know what they’re doing any more. The Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion plants are under cover and currently enjoying the sudden gusts of heat. The rest of the year now leans toward support and supply here at the Triffid Ranch, and that’s not including plans for building a new greenhouse this spring.
Likewise, the Day Job is a bit lacking in green this time of year, and a sudden run on my old friend Araucaria heterophylla at the local grocery store inspired me. “What’s wrong with a live tree? Even better, what’s wrong with bringing in a bit of Mesozoic holiday cheer?”
Naturally, it wasn’t enough simply bringing in a Norfolk Island pine. It definitely wasn’t enough to relate how it’s one of the last survivors of a once-extensive group of conifers now mainly represented by the monkey puzzle tree and the Wollemi pine. No, one of the advantages of being a palaeontology junkie is that people give me all sorts of unbidden dinosaur-related paraphernalia. Over the last 25 years or so, friends, relatives, and even a couple of ex-girlfriends contributed to the pile of dinosaur-related tree ornaments and lights, and a fair number had to go on ol’ A. heterophylla. Combine them with some of the new LED holiday lights, and the whole thing doesn’t look so bad.
Naturally, every Christmas tree needs a topper ornament, and stars are just so overdone. Next year, I’m going to make an Archaeopteryx topper, just so it’ll become art.
And since the Day Job is in the tech arena, the tree needed an appropriate nativity. Again, between the stuff I’ve been given and decorations from co-workers’ cubicles, we had quite the ensemble. For the record, the Burgess Shale critters in the front are mine, and they may or may not become ornaments on their own one day.
Look: the Spirit of New Year’s Eve.
Finally, I had to add something for a special niece who’s becoming quite the comics artist. Several co-workers with kids have noted the whole push on the Elf on the Shelf trend, and I can understand the idea. Isn’t it better, though, to have someone watching to see if you’re good and kicking your butt up around your shoulderblades if you aren’t?